Papua New Guinea heavyweights Hekari United have a point to prove in the Oceania Champions League after a three year absence from the region's premier club football competition.
The 2010 O-League winners were disqualified from the 2017 competition following moves to create a rebel domestic league and association in PNG by then Hekari chairman John Kapi Natto, who is now President of the PNGFA.
Hekari United were beaten grand finalists upon their return to the National Soccer League in 2019 and top the standings after seven rounds of the current campaign.
Team owner Vonnie Kapi Natto said they had a new-look squad, with only two players backing up from the 2016 campaign, but were thrilled to be back.
"Honestly, it's a great joy for me, for the team and for the country," she said. "I was sure that we'd been mistreated in the past in 2016 because a lot of things were happening and it's affecting the club and the players especially and I felt it wasn't fair but, anyway, it's passed.
"Even though we've been out for three years I've never backed off my responsibility in leading these young players. Hopefully one day we will come back to [Champions League] football and we've made it this year."
Hekari United will have the added boost of home advantage when they kick-off their Group A campaign against New Zealand domestic champions Eastern Suburbs on Sunday afternoon.
Vonnie Kapi Natto said the whole club was excited to welcome some of Oceania's best to Port Moresby.
"To me, I'm very excited - I know our pool is the pool of death with all the champions of other countries," she said.
"Hekari has been out for three years it's a steep mountain for us to climb but I have a lot of strong faith in the team and the players and the coaches."
"I've been bidding for this for many many years but I've never been given the opportunity for us to host the Champions League here and for us to have now been accepted by OFC I was so thankful," Natto said.
"I know it is a hard task, especially when the players have got to play on their home turf and they have to live up the standard of the team the expectation of the country."
Natto said the new wave of young players had been the foundation of their strong start to the new NSL campaign, complimenting experienced heads such as David Muta and Michael Foster and the team's international imports, Erick Joe and Vinicius Reis Kryzozun from Brazil, Solomon Islands midfielder Junior David and Samoan defender Vito Laloata.
"After three years back we are just trying to lift to the standard that we want. So far it's good, the coach is happy and he said we have to take the risk in having all these young players coming in and with two senior players with our four internationals it looks good ahead of us," she said.
"Just I want the players to play the game accordingly to the structure we have given them - hopefully we can upset some good team but we can't take them lightly because they're all top players in other Oceania countries."
Defending champions Hienghène Sport from New Caledonia kick off their title defence on Sunday against Vanuatu's ABM Galaxy at the PNG Football Stadium before Hekari make their return against debutantes Eastern Suburbs.
"We know that Eastern Suburbs is a wonderful team.
"We have seen some of their videos - they are amazing young players: great quality, great talent and that's the champions of New Zealand. With Galaxy, one of the great teams in Vanuatu and the champions of Oceania - the team from New Caledonia."